Passfolio, a global zero-commission stockbroker, is a young and ambitious brokerage founded in 2018. It is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In addition to the top-tier regulation, clients also enjoy additional investor protection under the SIPC policy of Passfolio's clearing firm for up to an additional $30 million (with a cash sub-limit of $900,000 per account), subject to an aggregate limit of $150 million.
Although Passfolio is a global broker, there is a distinct focus on Brazilian customers, as evidenced by the fact that a good portion of the content it offers is available in Portuguese.
Passfolio is considered safe because it is regulated by top-tier authorities and offers extra protection to investors.
Passfolio pros and cons
Passfolio offers commission-free trading above a value of $5 in ETFs, stocks and REITs. The broker has an outstanding mobile platform, the account opening is lightning fast and predominantly smooth.
On the downside, Passfolio focuses solely on the US market and the product portfolio is limited. The process of depositing funds is cumbersome, withdrawal is not free, and there is no web or desktop trading platform.
|• Free US stock and ETF trading||• Limited product portfolio focusing on US markets|
|• Great mobile platform||• Deposit is not user-friendly|
|• Fast and fully digital account opening||• Missing web and desktop platforms|
|🗺️ Country of regulation||USA|
|💰 Trading fees class||Low|
|💰 Inactivity fee charged||No|
|💰 Withdrawal fee amount||$0.25|
|💰 Minimum deposit||$0|
|🕖 Time to open an account||1 day|
|🎮 Demo account provided||No|
|🛍️ Products offered||Stock, ETF, Crypto|
Passfolio's fees are highly attractive as trading in all assets except fro cryptos is free of charge, provided the value of the trade reaches $5. On the other hand, most withdrawal options are subject to a fee.
|• Free stock and ETF trading for products priced above $5||None|
|• No account opening and maintenance fees|
|Assets||Fee level||Fee terms|
|US stock||Low||Commission-free stock trading, but securities less than $5 cost $0.02/share|
|Mutual fund||-||Not available|
|Inactivity fee||Low||No account fee|
How we ranked fees
We ranked Passfolio's fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.
To get things rolling, let's go over some lingo related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees, and non-trading fees.
- Trading fees occur when you trade. These can be commissions, spreads, financing rates and conversion fees.
- Non-trading fees include charges not directly related to trading, like withdrawal fees or inactivity fees.
In the sections below, you will find the most relevant fees of Passfolio for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing the most important fees are commissions.
We also compared Passfolio's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Robinhood and Webull. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of Passfolio alternatives.
To have a clear overview of Passfolio, let's start with the trading fees.
In practical terms, there are no trading fees at Passfolio, as the broker only charges for trades with a value of less than $5. Besides being highly unusual in the broker universe, this fee profile makes Passfolio especially well suited for newcomers to trading.
Stock fees and ETF fees
Passfolio charges no commission on stock and ETF trades. To make matters even sweeter, clients can also trade REITs (real estate investment funds) and ADRs (American depositary receipts, essentially stocks of companies not listed in the U.S.) free of charge. Note that trades with a value of less than $5 will be charged a $0.02 fee per share.
Passfolio's crypto partner Gemini charges 0.35% on each crypto trade, but the brokerage does not charge any fees on top of that. Opening, maintaining, and closing your crypto account with Passfolio are all free.
Passfolio has low non-trading fees. With the sole exception of withdrawals, clients do not have to pay any other non-trading fees, which is an ideal setup for long-term traders. When it comes to withdrawals, all transactions carry a price tag.
When made on a mobile device, the account opening at Passfolio is super fast and fully digital. The validation time is a mere 15 minutes. On the other hand, experience shows that validation can run into issues on the computer.
|• Fully digital||• Verification can be buggy on desktop|
|• No minimum deposit|
|• Verification in 15 minutes|
Can you open an account?
Although Passfolio is a US-based broker, it caters to a large international client base, which is not typical of American brokerages.
What is the minimum deposit at Passfolio?
There is no required minimum deposit at Passfolio. That comes on top of the fact that having an account at Passfolio does not incur any other fees either.
As seen in the fee section, Passfolio likes to keep matters as simple as possible.: there is only one type of acccount. Despite the one size fits all approach, Passfolio does make a distinction between Stock accounts and Crypto accounts. As the names suggest, one is for stock trading and the other for crypto trading. The two accounts need to be topped up separately. The broker does not offer corporate accounts.
How to open your account
Accounts at Passfolio can be opened either on a mobile phone or a computer. The mobile account opening was smooth and effortless but we ran into some validation issues when doing the account opening on a computer. The system repeatedly showed an error message when we clicked on the validation link.
To open an account on a mobile device, follow these steps:
- Download the application
- Click on Get Started
- Select language
- Enter the requested data (tax number, name, address, email address and phone number)
- Answer questions related to your employment status and income level
- Answer questions related to your investment goals
- Make a selfie with the camera and scan your ID
- Verify your email address
Deposit and withdrawal
Passfolio's deposit functions are numerous and they all come free of charge. On the other hand, withdrawal is not free and the process of depositing funds is complicated.
|• No deposit fee||• Credit/Debit card not available|
|• Only one account base currency|
|• Not user-friendly|
At Passfolio, there is only 1 base currency available, the USD. This is not highly unusual among next generation brokers, as shown in the comparison table below. Despite the focus on Brazilian customers, even these clients need to convert their deposits to USD, which they can do via a TED transfer.
|Number of base currencies||1||1||1|
Why does this matter? For two reasons. If you fund your trading account in the same currency as your bank account or you trade assets in the same currency as your trading account base currency, you don't have to pay a conversion fee.
A convenient way to save on currency conversion fees is opening a multi-currency bank account at a digital bank. Digital banks offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. Opening an account only takes a few minutes on your phone.
Deposit fees and options
Passfolio has no deposit fees, except for TED transfers where they charge a 1.2% currency conversion fee + 0.38% IOF. Passfolio supports the following transfer methods: USD paper checks, wire transfers, TransferWise, Revolut, ACH, TEDs, SWIFT, SafetyPay, and SEPA. However, the transfer methods available to you will vary according to your location.Credit/debit card deposits are not available.
Although the deposit options are numerous, the process itself is very cumbersome. Regardless of which deposit method you select, you will first have to transfer the funds to DriveWealth and then upload the bank transfer confirmation to the Passfolio platform. Make sure you don't skip this step or otherwise you will not be able to deposit funds into your account.
Passfolio's unique value proposition is that it allows clients to top up their crypto accounts with cryptos, which many clients may find very attractive.
You can only deposit money from accounts that are in your name.
All withdrawal transfers come with a fee. Surprisingly, ACH withdrawal - which is free of charge at many other brokers - costs $0.25; the wire is $25 ($35 if international); for TED transactions, there is a 1.2% conversion fee + 0.38% IOF + RBL 2,00. Even though wire transfers and TED transactions - the latter used by Brazilian clients - are rather pricy, Passfolio's overall withdrawal fee profile is still attractive.
You can only withdraw money to accounts in your name.
How do you withdraw money from Passfolio?
- Select the Transfer menu
- Select the appropriate account (Stock account / Crypto account)
- Enter the amount of withdrawal
- Select type of transfer
- Hit OK
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Web trading platform
Passfolio only has a mobile trading platform, clients do not have the option to trade on a Desktop or Web platform. At the same time, the live chat is only available on the Web.
Mobile trading platform
Passfolio's mobile platform boasts a clear-cut design and the search functions are also solid. What's missing is a wider selection of order types and price alerts.
|• User-friendly||• Limited order types|
|• Two-step (safer) login||• No price alerts|
|• Good search function|
Passfolio's mobile trading platform, an in-house development, is a mobile-first service. The platform's easy-to-use design makes it perfect for beginners and users with no sophisticated expectations. The platform is available in Chinese, English, Hindi, Portuguese and Spanish.
Look and feel
The Passfolio mobile trading platform is user-friendly. The design is straightforward and the functionalities are easy to find within the app.
Login and security
Passfolio provides a safe login. Users can select their personalized login setup in the Settings menu. By default, the platform will ask for biometric authentication upon each login. The 2FA authantication is via SMS and required of everyone upon registration. Since it’s connected to your cellphone number, it’s not possible to deactivate 2FA. Overall, the login options left us with the impression that the app offers a high level of security.
The search functions are excellent and remarkably user friendly. Users can search by entering a ticker or an asset name and filter by asset type.
The range of order types is very narrow, users can essentially choose between Market and Limit. This is less than the order types offered by some of its closest competitors.
Order time limits are also available, such as Good 'til Canceled (GTC) and Good 'til Day (GTD). In practice, the limited scope of order types means that clients can only execute trades at market price or at limit, which is a rather slim offering.
Alerts and notifications
You cannot set alerts and notifications on the Passfolio mobile platform. This is a sorely missing function.
Desktop trading platform
Passfolio does not offer a desktop trading platform.
Markets and products
In addition to cryptos, Passfolio offers stocks, ETFs, REITs and ADRs traded on US stock exchanges. Popular assets such as mutual funds, bonds and options are missing from the product portfolio.
Passfolio's overall product offering is rather limited, and some highly popular asset classes (i.e. mutual funds and options) are not availabe at all.
Stocks and ETFs
Passfolio clients can trade in stocks, ETFs, REITs and ADRs listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ. The number of ETFs pales in comparison with the offering of the broker's main competitors. At the time of our review, the ETFs were not available on the trading platform.
|Stock markets (#)||2||5||3|
On the crypto front, Passfolio has a lot of things going for it. Clients can buy actual crypto, not just crypto CFDs, which is a real differentiator. In addition, the crypto selection is far wider than the competition's offering.
Clients at Passfolio can trade in REITs (real estate investment trust) and ADRs (American depositary receipt). REITs are modeled after mutual funds in that they pool the capital of numerous investors and allow individual investors to earn dividends from income-producing real estate without having to buy the properties themselves. ADRs, which represent shares in a foreign company that is not listed in the US, are a great way for easy access to foreign shares.
Passfolio has a Roadmap page that details the new features and functionalities the broker is working on and also allows visitors to leave comments/suggestions concerning desirable developments. Too bad the entire page is available in Portugese only, we would have loved to know what improvements are in the pipeline.
Passfolio's charting interface is pleasing to the eye but limited in functionality. Extracting any data other than some basic info (i.e. opening/closing prices) is virtually impossible.
|• User-friendly||• Limited interactive charting|
|• No trading ideas|
|• No fundamental data available|
Passfolio does not provide trading ideas.
Passfolio does not offer fundamental data.
Passfolio has poor charting tools. There are no technical indicators and there's no possibility to draw trendlines either. Users only have access to line charts and candle charts on the platform, and the range of data is also very narrow. For those keen on charting, we recommend using an external tool.
News feed, Watchlists
The Passfolio app doesn't have a news function, but users can generate watchlists, albeit these are rather basic and useful maybe for beginners. For the time being, there are no other research functionalities worth highlighting.
Passfolio clients can contact the broker via all three customary channels. The email service is unbelievably fast, the live chat is somewhat slower while the phone service is virtually non-existent.
|• Relevant answers||• No 24/7 support|
|• Fast email support||• Couldn't reach phone support on multiple occasions|
You can contact Passfolio via:
- Live chat
- Email support
We missed the 24/7 availability.
Contacting Passfolio via email is a rewarding experience as their response time is extraordinarily short (sometimes they reply within 20 minutes) and the answers are detailed and relevant. The live chat is less convincing; although customer service representatives are very helpful, the answers are not always exhaustive. We did not manage to reach Passfolio on the phone even though we tried several times and at different hours. This is disappointing.
Extra customer service features include a client support page and an extremely detailed FAQ section, the latter being increasingly common among brokers. Unfortunately, the search function on the FAQ page is poor.
Passfolio's education services are very rudimentary, the offering is slim and not varied. There are some high-quality educational articles and a YouTube channel with market updates in Portugese.
|• Quality educational texts||• No demo account|
|• No trading platform tutorial videos|
At Passfolio you can learn in the following ways:
- General educational videos
- Quality educational articles
The Beginners Guide to Passfolio offers in-depth and detailed information about the way Passfolio operates in a highly transparent manner. The educational articles on fees and the Passfolio app are of high quality and super informative. Another big positive is that Portugese-speaking customers have access to a range of quality educational videos, especially on taxation issues. This is extremely useful and most probably highly appreciated. On the whole, educational materials are rather scarce, which may be typical of entry-level brokers but rather poor compared to more established ones, which offer a wealth of webinars, video tutorials and learning centers.
Passfolio is regulated by top-tier authorities like SEC or FINRA and clients enjoy high-level protection. On the flip side, Passfolio is a young venture, with no banking license and it is not subject to the strict regulations resulting from stock exchange listing.
|• Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority||• Does not hold a banking license|
|• High level of investor protection||• Not listed on stock exchange|
|• Financial information is not publicly available|
Is Passfolio regulated?
Yes, it is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Is Passfolio safe?
To be certain, we highly advise that you check two facts:
- how you are protected if something goes wrong
- what the background of the broker is
How you are protected
Passfolio operates via a single legal entitiy, Passfolio Securities LLC, which is a member of SIPC. Passfolio transmits client orders to DriveWealth LLC, which falls under US federal regulation by SEC and FINRA. DriveWealth acts as an agent, executing orders by transferring them to a floor broker.
DriveWealth has an excess SIPC policy with certain underwriters at Lloyd’s of London and if a client's loss exceeds the regular SIPC policy limit, additional protection of up to $30 million (with a cash sub-limit of $900,000) kicks in. The regular SIPC investor protection amount is for up to $500,000 for total coverage and up to $250,000 of that total can be applied to protect cash.
Not all investments are protected by SIPC. In general, SIPC covers notes, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investment company shares, and other registered securities. It does not cover instruments such as unregistered investment contracts, unregistered limited partnerships, fixed annuity contracts, currency, and interests in gold, silver, or other commodity futures contracts or commodity options.
Passfolio was established in 2018. The longer track record a broker has, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises.
The fact that Passfolio is regulated by two top-tier authorities is a great sign for the broker's safety.
As an up-and-coming brokerage, the main attractive feature of Passfolio is its highly competitive fee structure. You can essentially trade free of charge with an amount exceeding $5, the deposit is free and the broker doesn't charge any account fees either. The mobile app is exceptionally user friendly and the account opening and validation was extremely fast.
On the negative side, the range of products is rather limited and customers have access solely to US markets (NYSE/NASDAQ). Depositing funds in your Passfolio account can prove to be a cumbersome process and all withdrawals carry a price tag. Educational materials are pretty scarce, albeit some of high quality, and videos are only available in Portuguese.
Passfolio is ideal for non-U.S. investors looking for an easy-to-use platform to trade in US securities.